Friday, November 5, 2010

Stopping Crime, One Mobile Phone at a Time

Castell's explored the way ICT's can affect social and political movements around the world in the article, "The Mobile Civil Society: Social Movements, Political Power, and Communication Networks." I had read about how populations had ousted presidents and reversed elections using the power of networks and mobile technology; and it made me think about the power of mobile technology and how it is used to make changes everyday. I live in Chevy Chase, and when I drive into Bethesda I always see this big digital sign along the street that flashes the following message: "Report Suspicious Behavior," "Dial 1-800-492-TIPS," "Prevention is in Your Hands." The first time I drove by it, I quizzed myself and realized I didn't remember what the phone number was at all and wondered how many people the sign could really affect. After the second and third drive by the sign, I had it memorized, and in fact my brain was programmed to start thinking about types of suspicious behavior I may need to look out for before I even saw the sign and had just turned onto the street. I realized that I now knew the phone number, and that I remembered what the sign said. And for some strange reason, it always made me want to pick up my phone as if just because I saw the sign, I was going to be the witness to some crazy terrorist act or show of violence within the next ten minutes.

I began to relate this to the readings. First of all it is interesting how Maryland has realized the power of mobile technology and uses it in a manner like this to appeal for information that may lead to safer lives for the particular community. I wonder what the statistics are for phone calls received, and how many of them actually lead to the prevention of some situation. Do people just drive by the sign and never think about it again, or does the number get stuck in their heads like it did with me? There are many people who do not like to 'snitch'... they think that everyone should just mind their own business. But it's interesting how the wording of the sign makes it seem like,'hey, this is your civil responsibility to protect yourself and those around you.'Making a difference in society, one mobile phone at a time.

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